Cultivating a positive school culture in a remote learning world
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our world in many ways, particularly for the education system. The virus forced schools into a remote learning environment within a matter of days. Teachers and students alike had to figure out how to properly learn online, parents became homeschool teachers, and the social atmosphere of prom, pep rallies, football games, and more were all CANCELED. Education as a whole was taken by….Virus? With new and unprecedented problems to solve, our national network of SLED chapters seized the opportunity to create meaningful impact for their schools and communities.
Leveraging the design thinking process, SLED Chapters met virtually to host “SLED COVID-19 Brainstorm Sessions” and empathize with stakeholders to effectively define the issues being ideating potential solutions.
These brainstorming sessions included school administrators, chapter advisors, members of our corporate SLED support staff, and, of course, our SLED students. During the brainstorm, split up into several breakout rooms to discuss three important questions:
Vision of Success: What would a perfect version of this online learning experience look like?
The Problem: What current challenges are preventing you from reaching that “perfect world”?
The Solution: What are some solutions we can design and implement now to help our school and community?
One group of middle and high school SLED students from Oro Grande School District held a particularly impressive brainstorming session with a combined 16 new project ideas to solve COVID-related challenges.
The Oro Grande SLED chapters envisioned a virtual learning environment where students felt connected and engaged to their peers and school, fully equipped with the resources that they need to continue their academic growth. Obvious challenges to that vision were the physical separation leading to a sense of isolation, as well as differing levels of internet access at home for different students.
To tackle those challenges, the SLED team developed project ideas such as hosting a virtual talent show and creating school social media challenges to build community and culture. They also discussed starting a hand-written letter campaign to send to students who don’t have access to technology and remind them that they are missed and that they matter. Additionally, the Oro Grande SLED students planned the creation of local wifi maps to help students find free wifi to use in their area, teacher/student tutor sessions for each subject, and so much more.
However, ideas don't create an impact, implementation of ideas do, and SLED focuses just as much on the second half of the design thinking process - prototyping, testing, and launching - as we do on the first half. So after SLED chapters assessed the situation in light of COVID-19, they sprang into action.
Norris Middle School in Bakersfield, California, for example, planned a 5k for their school that was scheduled to take place after the COVID quarantine took place. In light of the circumstances, the race was expected to be cancelled, until the Norris Middle School SLED students took action. They created a facebook page, a google classroom, and social media graphics, and they promoted from their morning announcements that this year the 5K was going….you guessed it….virtual. The NMS SLED team led over one hundred people to join in running 3.1 miles, submitting their times and selfies (of course) upon completion.
Leading up to the race, SLED Students promoted free running apps, offered free training sessions, put together recommended playlists, created vinyl stickers for every participant, and even ordered medals to send to their top finishers. The race was a massive success and a beautiful way to bring an isolated community together, while also promoting health and fitness.
In spite of a global pandemic, our SLED students are still leaning in to identify and address the challenges their communities face. Whatever the future structure of education looks like, SLED will continue empowering a generation of student problem solvers to lead their communities forward.
To learn more about SLED and start a conversation on bringing a chapter to your school, connect with our team at: www.StudentLed.com